Sermon No: 185528-Faith - Part 2



SERMON TOPIC: Faith - Part 2

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 25 September 2022

Topic Groups: FAITH, HEBREWS

Sermon synopsis: HOW TO GET FAITH
- God gives us faith
- By seeing the work of God
- By observing God’s providence in nature
- Past experience
- By hearing the Word of God

FAITH

Part 2

The writer of Hebrews defines faith as follows:

Heb 11:1 (NASB) Now faith is the assurance [hupostasis] of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The KJV and NKJV render it, “Now faith is the substance (hupostasis) of things hoped for…”

FAITH

We saw that Hupostasis is often translated as “confidence” elsewhere in Scripture.

It is made up of stasis ‘to stand,’ and hupo ‘under,’ thus ‘that which stands under, a foundation.’ Ancient Greek authors used it to describe that which stands under anything such as a building, a contract, a promise.

It was also commonly used in ancient Greek business documents as the basis or guarantee of transactions or with the meaning of a title deed.

Heb 11:1 (NLT) Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Just as our physical eyesight gives us evidence of the visible, material world, faith gives us evidence of the invisible, spiritual world.

SEES THE INVISIBLE

THINGS NOT SEEN

But it is not mere guesswork, or chance, or superstition. There are facts behind faith, facts that suggest conclusions.

Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

We believe in creation based on faith in an event at which we were not present. We have faith because nature shows evidence of design and hence a Creator.

Ps 19:1 (NIV) The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

WHAT FAITH IS NOT

NOT presumption

NOT hope

NOT Positive thinking (faith in yourself OR faith in faith)

OBJECT OF FAITH

Faith always has an object – i.e. that which you put your faith in.

In order for faith to be of any value, you must have a worthy object for your faith.

True Biblical faith has God as it’s object.

* Ibid

HEBREWS 11

4. By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

5. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

7. By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

WHO’S WHO

Westminster Abbey in London is the final resting place of many famous people from history including 30 kings and queens starting with King Edward the Confessor. To mention but a few, we have the likes of William Tyndale, John Bunyan, William Carey, David Livingstone, John Wesley, Charles Wesley, William Wilberforce, Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Isaac Newton and William Shakespeare.

WHO’S WHO

Westminster Abbey contains the “who’s who” of figures from British history. Similarly, Hebrews 11 reads like the “who’s who” of the OT, listing Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets.

As such, some have referred to Hebrews 11 as the Bible’s “Westminster Abbey”, God’s “Hall of Fame” or “Hall of Faith”.

The author of Hebrews cites their heroes as examples of the faith we ought to emulate.

Heb 11:2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

He gives 3 broad examples of those we should imitate with regards to faith:

EXAMPLES TO EMULATE

Hebrews 11 - the heroes of old i.e., Biblical heroes and those in Church history.

Hebrews 12:2 - Jesus

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith ...

Hebrews 13:7 - Our leaders

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

EXAMPLES TO EMULATE

FAITH PLEASES GOD

Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Without faith we cannot please God. The converse is true - if we have faith we know that we are pleasing God.

The author doesn’t say it is hard to please God without faith, but that it is impossible!

There are 2 reasons for this:

anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists

and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t. - Blaise Pascal

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible. - Thomas Aquinas

1) MUST BELIEVE THAT HE EXISTS

1) MUST BELIEVE THAT HE EXISTS

In his book, “What Bothers Me Most about Christianity Honest Reflections from an Open-Minded Christ Follower” pastor Ed Gungor asks the question, “why would God hide?” As he reflects on the question, Gungor explores the possibility that this is part of God’s plan regarding faith. *

* Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell

“Gungor writes, “Perhaps God hides because he has chosen to establish a relationship with humanity through the pathway of faith. In order for faith to be faith, God must remain invisible and unprovable to the senses. If God could be seen as plainly as the sun or experienced as unquestionably as gravity, faith would not be required. God’s existence would be an undisputed fact. The pathway of faith insists that relationship with God is a matter of human free will and not forced or involuntary.” 1

1 Ibid

1) MUST BELIEVE THAT HE EXISTS

Faith can only exist in freedom, where we can choose to believe or not to believe. Because God uses faith as the only modality for connection with him, any relational connection between us has to be the result of choice or free will. He wants authentic relationship with us, so he honours our right to ignore him. Authentic relationships require choice.” 1

1 Ibid

1) MUST BELIEVE THAT HE EXISTS

2) he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

But to acknowledge God’s existence is not enough (Remember the demons believe in God’s existence too – James 2:19). We must believe in the inherent goodness of God, i.e. he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Some people believe in God, but are not convinced of God’s goodness – they make all sorts of accusations against God, especially when they encounter hardship or see suffering in the world.

In the parable of the talents we find this attitude in the man whom the master termed a “wicked, lazy servant”. He makes an accusation against his master’s character and uses that to justify the fact that he has done nothing with what God has given him. (Matt 25:24-25)

Master, I knew that you are a hard man… So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.

COURAGE & HOPE

To these Hebrew Christians who are being persecuted, the writer encourages them to persevere by remembering the heroes of faith. Faith will give them the courage and hope to endure those hard times:

Faith does not deny the evil, but it sees around it.

He who has faith has... an inward reservoir of courage, hope, confidence, calmness, and assuring trust that all will come out well - even though to the world it may appear to come out most badly. - B. C. Forbes

People of faith speak out against sin. Speaking of Noah it says, “By his faith he condemned the world…” (Heb 11:7)

People of faith believe in the coming judgment of God and act on this belief by preparing. Heb 11:7 states, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.”

FAITH & WORKS

Noah, for example, truly believed God. He could not possibly have embarked on the stupendous, demanding, and humanly ridiculous task God gave him without having had absolute faith. When God predicted rain, Noah had no concept of what rain was, because rain did not exist before the Flood. It is possible that Noah did not even know how to construct a boat, much less a gigantic ark. But Noah believed God and acted on His instructions. He had both assurance and conviction—true faith.

FAITH & WORKS

His outward building of the ark bore out his inward belief that the rain was coming and that God's plan was correct for constructing a boat that would float. His faith was based on God’s word, not on what he could see or on what he had experienced. For 120 years he preached in faith, hoped in faith, and built in faith. - John MacArthur

FAITH & WORKS

Our faith is evidenced by what we do:

James 2:14-26 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? … In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder… As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Let’s look at some cases in the Gospels where Jesus commended people for their faith.

Mark 2:1-4 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them.

FAITH & WORKS

Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.

Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

FAITH & WORKS

How did Jesus see their faith? It was evidenced by what they did. It’s hardly likely that they would have gone to all the trouble of carrying the man on a stretcher to the house, after finding it full carrying him up to the roof, making an opening in the roof at the risk of upsetting the owner, and then to lower the man down to where Jesus was – if they didn’t believe that Jesus could heal him. And that is exactly what Jesus subsequently does:

Mark 2:10-12 … So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all …

Matt 9:20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.

If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.

Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you.

The woman never spoke audibly. Where was the faith Jesus commends her for? It was evidenced by her actions and determination in pushing through the crowd to touch Jesus.

Mark 10:46-47 … a blind man, Bartimaeus… was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus… he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

FAITH & WORKS

Luke 10:48-52 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

Go, your faith has healed you.

Rabbi, I want to see.

Luke 10:52 “… Immediately he received his sight…”

Bartimaeus’ faith was demonstrated by his actions - his determination to get Jesus’ attention despite the discouragement given by the crowd.

FAITH & WORKS

Gen 50:24-25 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”

Heb 11:22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.

So Joseph didn’t just believe in the promises of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He acted on his belief and in faith gave explicit instructions about his bodily remains being returned to Israel.

Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

Although he doesn’t appear to have had any explicit instruction from God as to what sacrifice he should bring, by faith Abel instinctively offers an acceptable blood sacrifice as a sin offering, thereby setting a precedent for all future offerings. Abel:

“offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did” – His faith was evidenced by his actions (or works).

“was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings” – He was pleasing to God (without faith it is impossible to please God)

“by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.” – He has a godly legacy and still inspires people today. He serves as an example while Cain serves as a warning to people.

A GODLY LEGACY

HEIRS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

We cannot be righteous before God if we have no faith.

ABEL: By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. (Heb 11:4)

NOAH: “became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith”. (Heb 11:7)

HEIRS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

ABRAHAM: What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. (Rom 4:3-5)

RELATIONSHIP

Heb 11:5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

Without faith it is impossible to please God, but we read here of Enoch that “was commended as one who pleased God”.

Faith stems from a relationship with God – “Enoch walked with God” (Gen 5:22).

RELATIONSHIP

If you go on holiday you might have a friend go to your house every day and feed the animals, water the plants, and make sure everything is okay. If you trust the person, you won’t worry about your house because you have an assurance and are convinced that what you expect will happen even though you do not see it. This trust is based on your relationship with the person and your previous experiences with them.

RELATIONSHIP

“Faith is a reasoning trust, a trust which reckons thoughtfully and confidently upon the trustworthiness of God.” - John R. Stott (an English Anglican cleric noted as a leader of the worldwide Evangelical movement).

RELATIONSHIP

Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation. - D. Elton Trueblood (20th century American Quaker author and theologian, former chaplain both to Harvard and Stanford universities)

RELATIONSHIP

Every special exhibition of the power of faith was the fruit of a special revelation of God… Our spiritual power depends on God Himself speaking those promises to us.” - Andrew Murray (South African Dutch reformed pastor and author)

RELATIONSHIP

Hudson Taylor, wrote to his wife during one difficult time in the work of the China Inland Mission, “We have twenty-five cents – and all the promises of God!

RELATIONSHIP

The Greek term for ‘faith’ (pistis) is translated by three English terms: ‘faith,’ ‘belief,’ and ‘trust.’ Faith is a human response to God’s faithfulness and His promise. We trust His trustworthiness, not our own. His character is the key. - Bob Utley (Baptist Bible teacher)

RELATIONSHIP

Thus biblical faith is not blind trust in the face of contrary evidence, not an unknowable “leap in the dark”; rather, biblical faith is a confident trust in the eternal God who is all-powerful, infinitely wise, eternally trustworthy—the God who has revealed himself in his word and in the person of Jesus Christ, whose promises have proven true from generation to generation, and who will “never leave nor forsake” his own (Heb 13:5). - ESV Online Study Bible Crossway or Wordsearch)

Years ago, the captain of a large vessel set sail with his family from Liverpool. His destination was New York. One night when everyone was asleep, a sudden squall arose. The wind came sweeping over the water, struck the vessel and almost capsized it. Everything movable was sent tumbling and crashing, and the passengers became aware that they were in imminent peril…

The captain’s little daughter, just 8 years old, was awakened and cried with fright, “What’s the matter?” When they told her about the storm she asked, “Is Father on deck?”

Assured that he was, the little one dropped back onto her pillow without a fear. In spite of the howling winds and crashing waves, she was soon fast asleep. This ought to be the attitude of every Christian as we face the rough seas and stormy days of life. *

* “An Anatomy of Faith” by Alan Carr (Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Lenoir, NC)

“Faith is dependence upon God. And this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends. And self-dependence only comes to its end, with some of us, when sorrow, suffering, affliction, broken plans and hopes bring us to that place of self-helplessness and defeat. And only then do we find that we have learned the lesson of faith; to find our tiny craft of life rushing onward to a blessed victory of life and power and service undreamt of in the days of fleshly strength and self-reliance.” - James McConkey Robinson (Professor Emeritus of Religion, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California.)

RELATIONSHIP

Trusting God turns problems into opportunities.

RELATIONSHIP

Faith or trust in God is at the foundation of a relationship with Him… You are calling God a liar if you do not trust Him, and you cannot be close to a liar. Truth is the basis for trust. If you doubt the truth of God’s Word, including His promises for the future, you cannot trust Him and thus will be distant from Him… Some of the things that God says are not easy to accept … When He sends difficult trials into our lives, whether persecution, the loss of our health, or the loss of a loved one, we have to trust Him, believing that He is acting in love to form Christ in us. If the enemy can get us to doubt God’s love in a time of trials, we will draw away from God and disobey His Word of truth. To draw near to God, we “must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb 11:6). *

* Steven Cole (pastor of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship in Arizona.)

HOW TO GET FAITH

God gives us faith - Saving faith itself is given as a gift of God:

Eph 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Rom 12:3 … Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

By seeing the work of God

John 11:45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.

John 7:31 Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?”

John 14:11 “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”

John 2:11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

By seeing the work of God

By observing God’s providence in nature

Matt 7:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear… Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Matt 7:28-30 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

By observing God’s providence in nature

Remember what God has done in the past. The Israelites forgot God’s deliverance at the Red Sea and continually complained in the wilderness when faced by problems, instead of putting their faith in God.

PAST EXPERIENCE

PAST EXPERIENCE

Heb 3:7-12 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

PAST EXPERIENCE

Jesus rebukes the disciples for their little faith, because they did not remember his previous provision in the past.

Matt 16:6-7 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

Matt 16:8-10 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?”

Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (NASB)

John 8:30 Even as he (Jesus) spoke, many put their faith in him.

This is why it’s important to read God’s Word and to listen to doctrinally sound ministry. When you discover what the Scripture says about a particular situation you may be in, faith is established in your heart, and you are able to face the situation in the light of God’s Word.

By hearing the Word of God

By hearing the Word of God

Note how the man in Lystra received faith to be healed when he heard the Word:

Acts 14:8-10 In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet… He listened to Paul as he was speaking.

Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!”

At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

And Paul’s faith during the storm at sea while facing a pending shipwreck, was because of God’s word to him.

Acts 27:22 “But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.”

Acts 27:23-25 “Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”

Let us go over to the other side.

Consider this account in Mark 4:35-40 about Jesus and his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.

Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.

Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the waves.

Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?

Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

HOW TO GET FAITH: By hearing the Word of God

Before the boat trip, Jesus words were “Let us go over to the other side.” But the disciples forgot his words and didn’t believe they were going to reach the other side. They say, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” After calming the storm, Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith.

Are we like the disciples who forgot that Jesus said they were going to reach the other side? Or are we like Paul, who remains confident in the face of a shipwreck because God has told him that he was going to Rome?

HOW TO GET FAITH: By hearing the Word of God

“You get faith by studying the Word. Study that Word until something in you ‘knows that you know’ and that you do not just hope that you know.”

Carrie Judd Montgomery

“I can’t understand God by feelings. I can’t understand the Lord Jesus Christ by feelings. I can only understand God the Father and Jesus Christ by what the Word says about them. God is everything the Word says He is. We need to get acquainted with Him through the Word.”

Smith Wigglesworth




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